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Yes, I saw a real live armadillo, but more on that later. I have no idea at what point we went here, but here we were at O’Leno State Park in High Springs, Florida. The Paraners Branch Trail was calling our names and we were ready to go.
After the short drive, we got to the trail and headed out. I really enjoyed this trail and would love to hike the whole thing.
It’s a 3.6-mile loop of a woodsy trail with some small open field areas with saw palmetto allover. I loved those spots the most. It starts crossing over the Santa Fe River and meanders around several natural sinks.
Towards the beginning we walked along the river around the cypress trees and cypress tree nubs, stopping to pick up a little garbage and admire the river. It really is a pretty hike.
We followed the trail spotting golden orb spiders and even an armadillo, but you already knew that. Moving on then. I’m kidding! The armadillo was probably my favorite part! Ok, there I’m kidding, but I was extremely excited to see it.
It was just wandering along next to the trail with it’s gross little scaly shell thing. It was SO CUTE! I had no idea there were even armadillos in Florida. Let’s be real here, I had no idea where they lived at all. Now I know.
We continued on and I kept an eye out for the little guys, but unfortunately, I didn’t see anymore. I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the trail, appreciating the sun and shade equally.
The trail was covered in dry pine needles and made for a nice sound while we were walking. Neither of us can remember if we hiked the whole thing or not, but whatever we did hike, I liked.
Paraners Branch is a nice, easy hike not too far from Gainesville. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon, especially in the cooler winter months. If you want to get outside, away from the big city life, this is a great option for you.
Tips for visiting O’leno State Park
- Park entrance is $5 for 2-8 people, $4 if you’re on your own.
- Camping is $18 a night.
- The park is in High Springs, Florida, not too far from Gainesville.
- Bring water as always.
- In the summer I’d definitely recommend bug spray and sunscreen.
Have you been to O’Leno State Park? What is your favorite thing to do there? What is your favorite Florida State Park?